Learn more about the Brazilian celebration that gets a different style and rhythm in every region

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There probably isn’t a celebration more associated with Brazil than Carnival. The festival originated during Ancient times, but it started taking its current form during the Middle Ages, since the Catholic Church incorporated pagan festivities into their calendar. And Carnival is nothing more than a celebration – during which some indulgences are allowed – before Lent, a period of 40 days preceding Easter in which Catholics avoid eating meat. This connection to Easter, also a celebration with uncertain dates, is why Carnival dates change every year.

The traditional Carnival marching songs date from the 19th century in Brazil. The first one was composed by Chiquinha Gonzaga. At the time, party-goers wore masks at the balls, following the Venetian tradition. In the beginning of the 20th century, samba, a very Brazilian rhythm – with lots of African spices – was included in the festivities. Quickly the samba schools became almost a synonym for Carnival.

Nowadays the best thing about the holiday is that you can always celebrate in a different way, because the festival gets its own particular style and rhythm in every region of the country.

Sambadrome

The mythical samba schools from both Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo attract thousands of tourists from all over the world every year. The most energetic follow the parade, but many prefer to enjoy it from the benches and box seats. If that’s you, make sure to buy your tickets in advance to get the best seats.

The parades are a unique spectacle. Every year, the schools compete to see who has the liveliest samba, the most exuberant costumes and the most creative floats. The party starts at night and the last school only leaves the Sambadromes after the sun is out.

Blocos (street parties)

In Rio and Sao Paulo, the blocos or street parties have options for everyone and all tastes. It’s possible to find blocos that don’t even play samba and give space to other Brazilian rhythms, like frevo or axé. These street parties happen all across the country. In Minas Gerais State, the festivities are run by students in the famous historical towns, such as Ouro Preto and Diamantina.

Trios eletricos

Carnival with trios eletricos (a kind of truck with a stage) has been a trademark of Salvador (Bahia state) for decades. There, the trucks move around the Barra-Ondina circuit, gathering people with live concerts of many rhythms by Brazilian music icons, from axé to pop, and even rock bands.

Carnaboi

In Parintins, Amazonas state, Carnaboi is a tradition that mixes Carnival with the town’s Folk Festival. The celebration combines Carnival songs with toada, a local rhythm. It’s the Carnival version of the traditional dispute between the groups representing the bois-bumbá Caprichoso and Garantido.

Frevo and maracatu

In Recife and Olinda (Pernambuco state), the ruling rhythm is frevo. In Olinda, the party is accompanied by giant dolls, usually representing famous people. But Pernambuco is also known for maracatus, groups that preserve folk dances and music of African-Brazilian origins. It’s a celebration with a strong historical and cultural appeal.There probably isn’t a celebration more associated with Brazil than Carnival. The festival originated during Ancient times, but it started taking its current form during the Middle Ages, since the Catholic Church incorporated pagan festivities into their calendar. And Carnival is nothing more than a celebration – during which some indulgences are allowed – before Lent, a period of 40 days preceding Easter in which Catholics avoid eating meat. This connection to Easter, also a celebration with uncertain dates, is why Carnival dates change every year.

The traditional Carnival marching songs date from the 19th century in Brazil. The first one was composed by Chiquinha Gonzaga. At the time, party-goers wore masks at the balls, following the Venetian tradition. In the beginning of the 20th century, samba, a very Brazilian rhythm – with lots of African spices – was included in the festivities. Quickly the samba schools became almost a synonym for Carnival.

Nowadays the best thing about the holiday is that you can always celebrate in a different way, because the festival gets its own particular style and rhythm in every region of the country.

Sambadrome

The mythical samba schools from both Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo attract thousands of tourists from all over the world every year. The most energetic follow the parade, but many prefer to enjoy it from the benches and box seats. If that’s you, make sure to buy your tickets in advance to get the best seats.

The parades are a unique spectacle. Every year, the schools compete to see who has the liveliest samba, the most exuberant costumes and the most creative floats. The party starts at night and the last school only leaves the Sambadromes after the sun is out.

Blocos (street parties)

In Rio and Sao Paulo, the blocos or street parties have options for everyone and all tastes. It’s possible to find blocos that don’t even play samba and give space to other Brazilian rhythms, like frevo or axé. These street parties happen all across the country. In Minas Gerais State, the festivities are run by students in the famous historical towns, such as Ouro Preto and Diamantina.

Trios eletricos

Carnival with trios eletricos (a kind of truck with a stage) has been a trademark of Salvador (Bahia state) for decades. There, the trucks move around the Barra-Ondina circuit, gathering people with live concerts of many rhythms by Brazilian music icons, from axé to pop, and even rock bands.

Carnaboi

In Parintins, Amazonas state, Carnaboi is a tradition that mixes Carnival with the town’s Folk Festival. The celebration combines Carnival songs with toada, a local rhythm. It’s the Carnival version of the traditional dispute between the groups representing the bois-bumbá Caprichoso and Garantido.

Frevo and maracatu

In Recife and Olinda (Pernambuco state), the ruling rhythm is frevo. In Olinda, the party is accompanied by giant dolls, usually representing famous people. But Pernambuco is also known for maracatus, groups that preserve folk dances and music of African-Brazilian origins. It’s a celebration with a strong historical and cultural appeal.